It’s All About Greed

For several weeks I’ve been flooded with news about the financial meltdown all over the world.  The news are scary, and I’m afraid we haven’t reached bottom yet.  In Iceland, for example, almost every citizen has been touched by the global financial crisis.  Even the Prime Minister is having a hard time explaining the financial problem of the country.  There was a currency crisis that started in the spring of 2008, and on October 6th, trading in Iceland’s banks was suspended as the government battled to save the economy.

As I read further into the matter, everybody is blaming everybody else for the financial mess.  In the U.S., the Democratic is blaming the Republican Party and likewise.  The fact of the matter is, that regardless of who is responsible, the problem has to be solved as soon as possible by the new guest at  the White House.  How to do it?  That’s the sixty thousand dollar question.

Having said this, I recently viewed a movie about the wheeling and dealing at Wall Street.  You guessed it; the 1987 movie is Wall Street brilliantly played by Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.  The movie is about a young and impatient stockbroker who is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.  In a nutshell, the movie is basically about greed.

Wall Street is a highly underrated film that has sadly been neglected by the mainstream audience. What makes it even sadder is the fact that it still applies today.  As I viewed this Oliver Stone’s movie, the events happening in Wall Street in 2008 came to my mind.  How greed has crept into the minds of today’s largest bank CEOs and led them to their doom.

During the film, corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) advises his ambitious pupil (Charlie Sheen):

“The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it. You’ve got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I’ve still got a lot to teach you.”

These are strong words showing us how a ruthless Wall Street player thinks.  Another memorable quote from the movie is about greed.  Let’s take a look at a speech given by Gordon Gekko during a stockholder’s meeting:

“Well, I appreciate the opportunity you’re giving me Mr. Cromwell as the single largest shareholder in Teldar Paper, to speak. Well, ladies and gentlemen we’re not here to indulge in fantasy but in political and economic reality. America, America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are at nightmare proportions. Now, in the days of the free market when our country was a top industrial power, there was accountability to the stockholder. The Carnegies, the Mellons, the men that built this great industrial empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company! All together, these men sitting up here own less than three percent of the company. And where does Mr. Cromwell put his million-dollar salary? Not in Teldar stock; he owns less than one percent. You own the company. That’s right, you, the stockholder. And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their luncheons, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.”

“Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated. In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars. Thank you. I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.”

I have reasons to believe, many Wall Street companies, large banks and insurance companies are runned by managers who believe that greed is the next big thing after God.  Because they feel this way, they will break every rule in the book to make a fast buck.  And by searching for the elusive fast buck, they’ve ruined their companies and placed their countries in a global financial turmoil.

I strongly suggest you view this stunning movie.  It will help you understand how Wall Street works.  Good Day.

Stream Movie:  Wall Street

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